William Kovacsik

William Kovacsik

WILLIAM C. KOVACSIK holds a Bachelor of Arts from Drew University, as well as a J.D. from the Fordham University School of Law and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University. He was on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon from 1994-2001. He has also taught at Ball State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Most recently, he served as chair of the Department of Dramatic Writing at New...
WILLIAM C. KOVACSIK holds a Bachelor of Arts from Drew University, as well as a J.D. from the Fordham University School of Law and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University. He was on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon from 1994-2001. He has also taught at Ball State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Most recently, he served as chair of the Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch Asia graduate program in Singapore, where he was on the faculty for six years.

Mr. Kovacsik’s plays have been seen throughout the United States. He wrote The Masrayana, which was co-produced by the Prop Theatre and the Rasaka Theatre Company. The Masrayana received praise from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, and went on to win the Joseph Jefferson Citation Award for Best New Play in Chicago, 2005-2006.

His play Morisot Reclining, which details the stormy relationship between Edouard Manet and leading Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot, was staged by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company in the spring of 2009, and was nominated for a Henry Award for Best New Play by the Colorado Theatre Guild and an Ovation Award by the Denver Post. Morisot Reclining was published in January 2012 by the Next Stage Press.
Mr. Kovacsik’s full-length play Scales of Justice was named Best Play at the 1999 Dayton Playhouse FutureFest, where it was praised by critics from the Newark Star-Ledger and the Village Voice. Scales of Justice had its professional premiere at the Long Beach Playhouse, and was subsequently published by Playscripts, Inc.

Mr. Kovacsik’s script Pillar of Salt won an international playwriting prize offered by Hanover College and the Eli Lily Foundation for plays dealing with spirituality. His play Slice of Immortality was presented as a reading by the Lark Theatre, the Carnegie Mellon Summer Showcase of New Plays and the Showcase of Western Plays co-produced by the Arvada Center and Red Rocks College in Denver. His play Music of the Spheres, dealing with the life of 11th-century mystic and composer Hildegard von Bingen, was produced by the Hartt School of the Arts at the University of Hartford.
His script The Run of the River was named Best Play of the 1995 Pittsburgh New Works Festival by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. He has had numerous other one-act plays presented by the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, including The Alpha State, Move to First and Bomber Wing. His ten-minute plays A Mighty Fortress and Bringer of Light were produced by the Short & Sweet Festival in Singapore in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

In addition to his activities as a writer, Mr. Kovacsik spent three seasons as a member of the acting company for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. He has directed classical and contemporary plays in both academic and professional settings. He practiced law on Wall Street, specializing in cases dealing with securities law, antitrust and municipal finance. He also spent three years working as a consultant for several high-end firms in the wine trade.

Plays

  • The Masrayana
    Based on a true story, The Masrayana is set in India. It tells the story of Gopal Masra, a farmer in rural India. Masra’s life seems to be reasonably content – until his brother bribes local officials to have him declared dead so that the brother can inherit his farm. Initially, it seems as though this will be a mere inconvenience; however, as Masra becomes entangled in the web of a stifling bureaucracy, it...
    Based on a true story, The Masrayana is set in India. It tells the story of Gopal Masra, a farmer in rural India. Masra’s life seems to be reasonably content – until his brother bribes local officials to have him declared dead so that the brother can inherit his farm. Initially, it seems as though this will be a mere inconvenience; however, as Masra becomes entangled in the web of a stifling bureaucracy, it becomes apparent that he will have to overcome significant challenges before returning to official life. Masra takes increasingly desperate measures as he tries to re-establish his identity as a living person: he has his wife apply for widow’s benefits, he runs for office, and he even tries to get himself arrested – anything to force the authorities to acknowledge that he is alive. All these steps are of no avail, and Masra loses his friends and his wife as he sinks deeper into poverty and anonymity.

    Eventually, Masra discovers that there are hundreds of others throughout India who have suffered the same fate and been dispossessed of their identities. He begins to organize a campaign of these living dead, leading them in a march on Delhi. As he undertakes his journey back to life, Masra encounters the full range of human responses, from indifference and hatred to the deepest forms of love.

    The Masrayana requires only the simplest unit set. It requires seven performers – three female, four male. It features classical Indian dance as an integral part of the story-telling.
  • Bottle For a Special Occasion
    A woman in late middle age, recently widowed, walks into a wine shop to buy a bottle to put in her late husband's coffin. As she speaks to a wine salesman, unexpected details concerning her marriage emerge.
  • The Organist's Daughter
    The Organist’s Daughter is based on a true story. During the early eighteenth century, when the great organist Dieterich Buxtehude was auditioning musicians to succeed him in the coveted post as the director of music at St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck, Germany, he imposed an interesting condition: the successful candidate would be required to marry his daughter before landing the job. For this play, I’ve created...
    The Organist’s Daughter is based on a true story. During the early eighteenth century, when the great organist Dieterich Buxtehude was auditioning musicians to succeed him in the coveted post as the director of music at St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck, Germany, he imposed an interesting condition: the successful candidate would be required to marry his daughter before landing the job. For this play, I’ve created a fictional candidate – Christian Gunderloch – and devised an equally fictional version of Buxtehude’s daughter, Anna Margareta. I’ve also imagined what it would be like if Buxtehude imposed an additional requirement – namely, that the young man would have to decide whether to marry his daughter after a short interview in which he was forbidden from laying eyes on her. The play is my version of how such an interview might have proceeded.
  • Morisot Reclining
    Morisot Reclining tells the story of two painters – Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet – whose contributions to the art world during the nineteenth century continue to have repercussions to this day. Morisot was one of the first women to earn her living as a professional painter, and was one of the founders of the Impressionist movement. Manet, although he did not call himself an Impressionist, broke through...
    Morisot Reclining tells the story of two painters – Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet – whose contributions to the art world during the nineteenth century continue to have repercussions to this day. Morisot was one of the first women to earn her living as a professional painter, and was one of the founders of the Impressionist movement. Manet, although he did not call himself an Impressionist, broke through old conventions with innovations that made Impressionism possible.

    The play is narrated by two other famed Impressionist painters: Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. They set out the foundation of the story – the complicated personal relationship between Morisot and her mentor, Manet.

    Throughout the most important years of their respective careers, Morisot posed for a series of eleven portraits painted by Manet. The play is structured around scenes that show Manet working on the five most important portraits, each of which documents a different stage in their relationship, moving from mentor/student to a deep connection between lovers whose feelings were never consummated. The first portrait is Manet’s masterpiece “The Balcony,” in which Morisot’s haunted face serves as the centerpiece.

    In the middle of the play, we see Manet painting “Berthe Morisot Reclining,” a work of unrivalled sensuality that brings forth the passionate connection between two diverse personalities who could never fully acknowledge -- nor escape -- the force that bound them together. The last painting is “Berthe Morisot With a Bunch of Violets,” which one critic has termed “the finest portrait painted since Vermeer,” and which served as the bookend of their difficult but rewarding relationship.

    The play depicts the pressures that both of these artistic rebels faced – Manet, as a man whose genius was never fully acknowledged during his lifetime, and Morisot, who had to fight against the social restrictions that bound bourgeois women in nineteenth century France. The two narrators, Degas and Cassatt, move in and out of the action, locating the story as it moves through time and space, and also portraying all of the other crucial characters who had an impact on the lives of Morisot and Manet -- including Morisot’s mother, Manet’s wife, and Puvis de Chavannes, a painter and gadfly who touched the live of both artists. As the play proceeds, it becomes apparent that the relationship between Degas and Cassatt echoes the connection between Morisot and Manet.
  • Scales of Justice
    Scales of Justice tells the story of seven students who make up the editorial board of the Law Review at St. Andrew’s School of Law, a fictional institution located in northern New Jersey. The characters include PAUL BARTOLOMEO, the Editor-in-Chief, an ambitious first-generation American; MELISSA BOYER, the Managing Editor, a liberal black woman who is also a pragmatic deal-maker; and the Associate Editors of...
    Scales of Justice tells the story of seven students who make up the editorial board of the Law Review at St. Andrew’s School of Law, a fictional institution located in northern New Jersey. The characters include PAUL BARTOLOMEO, the Editor-in-Chief, an ambitious first-generation American; MELISSA BOYER, the Managing Editor, a liberal black woman who is also a pragmatic deal-maker; and the Associate Editors of the Review, including TRISH LOMBARDI, PAUL’s ex-girlfriend; ERIKA CASH, a fiercely intelligent and fiercely liberal student who is jealous of PAUL’s position as head of the Review; ARTHUR HARMON, a conservative black man who is a close ally of PAUL; and DEAN LINDSAY, the scion of a rich family, a former ne’er-do-well who has finally found his calling in the law. Also playing a role in the action is JOSHUA GREENBAUM, a second-year student who will inherit PAUL’s position as Editor-in-Chief the following year.

    Despite the fact that the editors of the Law Review are the elite students at any given law school, St. Andrew’s is not exactly at the top of the heap in the hierarchy of American legal education. Consequently, most of the characters are facing graduation without any employment prospects on the horizon.

    Their situation may be changed, however, when DEAN convinces WALTER ALLEN HANBURY, a controversial Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (based roughly on Antonin Scalia), to speak at the annual Law Review dinner. Suddenly, the Law Review may be playing host to all of the movers and shakers in the local bar – and the networking possibilities mean that potential job offers could be plentiful.

    Problems arise when ERIKA decides to oppose HANBURY’s appearance at St. Andrew’s on ideological grounds, and invokes the by-laws of the Review to force a vote on the issue. After a brief but intense period of politicking, a slender majority of the editors vote against inviting Hanbury to speak. The matter seems dead – until PAUL, prodded by HANBURY himself, convinces the administration of the law school to issue its own invitation to the Justice.

    This end-run around the vote of the editors enrages ERIKA, who stages a series of protests which bring the issue before the public. The conflict between PAUL and ERIKA (and their respective allies) grows increasingly bitter as gender politics, racial issues and questions concerning freedom of speech come into play. Eventually, both sides suffer devastating personal losses as a result of the controversy.
  • The Barksdale Confession
    Synopsis – The Barksdale Confession

    The Barksdale Confession tells the story of PETER J. BARKSDALE, a dynamic conservative academic, his son, P.J., and P.J.’s wife, KATHY. The story kicks off as PETER takes over as president of Bridgeville, a middling Midwestern college, and turns it into the white-hot intellectual center of the American right wing. Bridgeville becomes a place of pilgrimage...
    Synopsis – The Barksdale Confession

    The Barksdale Confession tells the story of PETER J. BARKSDALE, a dynamic conservative academic, his son, P.J., and P.J.’s wife, KATHY. The story kicks off as PETER takes over as president of Bridgeville, a middling Midwestern college, and turns it into the white-hot intellectual center of the American right wing. Bridgeville becomes a place of pilgrimage for every important conservative politician. Although P.J. struggles to emerge from his father’s shadow, all three characters are nonetheless caught up in a rising tide of success as Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich remake American politics.

    All seems well until P.J. discovers that his father has had a fifteen-year-long affair with KATHY. Seen from the perspective of the son, The Barksdale Confession tells the story of this family betrayal against a backdrop of right-wing greed, lust and hypocrisy.
  • Slice of Immortality
    Synopsis: Slice of Immortality
    Slice of Immortality is a free and somewhat unorthodox adaptation of The Bacchae. Slice follows EURIPIDES during the last few days of his life, as he writes his masterpiece. As he composes The Bacchae, his own life begins to echo events in the play.

    Slice of Immortality opens as EURIPIDES dwells in self-imposed exile on the island of Salamis. Disgusted...
    Synopsis: Slice of Immortality
    Slice of Immortality is a free and somewhat unorthodox adaptation of The Bacchae. Slice follows EURIPIDES during the last few days of his life, as he writes his masterpiece. As he composes The Bacchae, his own life begins to echo events in the play.

    Slice of Immortality opens as EURIPIDES dwells in self-imposed exile on the island of Salamis. Disgusted by the war-mongers who run Athens, and even more distraught by the poor reception given to his plays at the Festival of Dionysus, EURIPIDES has vowed that he will not allow his latest play to be performed. Instead, he intends to seal it up in the mountain cave where he lives, hoping that future generations will discover his work and give it the appreciation it deserves.

    Euripides’s plan is opposed by CEPHISOPHON, a young would-be playwright who has attached himself to EURIPIDES as a servant in the hopes of lapping up some of the great man’s wisdom. EURIPIDES finds his peace further disturbed by ARISTOPHANES, who sails around Salamis so that he can periodically hurl insults as his old foe. ARISTOPHANES remains an off-stage presence until late in the play.

    Worried by the decline in quality of the Festival of Dionysus, the Athenian authorities have sent PROTAXIS, a wealthy aristocrat and an old enemy of EURIPIDES, to try and convince him to submit a new play. Eventually, PROTAXIS goads EURIPIDES into writing a play that will please the audience and silence his critics. PROTAXIS promises to provide EURIPIDES with the best actors and the use of a comfortable villa in Athens during rehearsals. To CEPHISOPHON’s great dismay, EURIPIDES puts aside The Bacchae and quickly writes a more “commercial” play.

    On the verge of his return to Athens, EURIPIDES is visited by DEMETRIA, a former lover now married to PROTAXIS. Tired of her husband, DEMETRIA tries to entice EURIPIDES to continue writing popular scripts, bleeding her husband’s purse while the two conduct an affair on the side. Her overtly mercenary attitude causes an argument; DEMETRIA leaves, while EURIPIDES, disgusted with himself, drinks himself into a stupor.

    While he is unconscious, ARISTOPHANES visits the cave. He finds The Bacchae, and in a fit of jealous rage, is about to destroy the manuscript when he is stopped by CEPHISOPHON. CEPHISOPHON forces ARISTOPANES to read the play. Against his will, ARISTOPHANES is overcome by The Bacchae. When EURIPIDES emerges from the cave, ARISTOPHANES accuses him of cowardice for trying to hide his work from the public. ARISTOPHANES takes the play, intending to submit it for the Festival of Dionysus, knowing that this will enrage EURIPIDES.

    EURIPIDES is in despair after ARISTOPHANES departs; he worries that he will be subject to yet another public failure. CEPHISOPHON reveals himself to be the god Dionysus, and assures him that the play will succeed – provided that EURIPIDES gives up his life in exchange. DIONYSUS leads EURIPIDES into a frenzied dance that ends with EURIPIDES expiring – but not before his has earned his place in the pantheon of literary greats.

    Slice of Immortality requires only one set, and can be produced with six performers (three male, three female).



  • The Run of the River
    In the mid-1990s, a retired mill worker is fishing in a stream when he meets the ghost of his son, killed in Vietnam thirty years before.
  • Exchanging Minka
    Exchanging Minka tells the story of Minka Arshenka, a sexy but inept Russian spy who harbors a not-so-secret ambition to be the next Barbra Streisand. Assigned by her Russian masters to bring back secrets about America, she has liaisons with a hapless librarian, a feckless actor-turned-Congressman and a reckless venture capitalist. She tries in vain to extract useful intelligence from each, while at the same...
    Exchanging Minka tells the story of Minka Arshenka, a sexy but inept Russian spy who harbors a not-so-secret ambition to be the next Barbra Streisand. Assigned by her Russian masters to bring back secrets about America, she has liaisons with a hapless librarian, a feckless actor-turned-Congressman and a reckless venture capitalist. She tries in vain to extract useful intelligence from each, while at the same time wasting no opportunity to advance her halting career in show business.

    The stories connected with each of these affairs emerge as Minka is interrogated twice: once by the FBI, who want to prove that she is a spy, and once by the Russian authorities, who fear that her loyalty to her homeland has been hopelessly compromised by her time in America. These two interrogations, although they occur at different times in the story-line, overlap in the structure of the play.

    Although Minka’s attempts to infiltrate the corridors of power prove fruitless, each of her affairs teaches her that the reality of life in the United States is often at shocking variance with America’s perception of itself. Far from driving her to despair, she accepts each such discovery with a cheerful innocence that confounds both of her interrogators. She embraces each instance of America’s corruption with a kind of thrilled infatuation; despite a long parade of men in her life, Minka’s real loves are pop culture, individualism and the peculiar American penchant for celebrating superficiality and greed – the detritus of the American Dream in the 21st century.